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Kelsey Timmerman Headshot

I smuggled Anti-flatulence Underwear Past TSA

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I take out my laptop and set it in a bin. I slip my shoes off and smile at the TSA agent as if I have nothing to hide. As if I'm just another normal passenger. As if I'm not wearing anti-flatulence underwear.

My brow grows moist as I fight the urge to adjust my Gas Eaters while at the same time not letting my eye wander to the full-body scanner. No doubt a man wearing unisex, airtight underwear with a quarter-inch pad of activated carbon sewn in the butt would throw up a few flags. The "Underwear Bomber" really ruined it for the rest of us.

I try to walk normal. It's not easy. I feel like I'm sitting on a bicycle seat. In fact, that's one of the excuses I've decided to give if my underwear are called into question, "They're just bike shorts."

But that wouldn't explain the placement of the padding.

I could go with the bike-short excuse or just tell the truth.

I've brought the packaging along as proof. There's a drawing of the Gas Eaters with arrows pointing to the airtight fabric, the filter, and the "porous pocket material for escaping gas."

Unfortunately, the Gas-Eater diagram looks like it was designed by a high school student and printed out on the latest $99 printer. At best it looks like a gag gift that you would buy at Spencer's Gifts for that hard-to-buy-for uncle who lives in his sweatpants and claims to be able to fart the alphabet. At worst, it looks like I'm a terrorist harboring explosives in my drawers.

If I got caught, who knows what unspeakable pat-downs the TSA agents would perform on me.

I'm waved through the metal detector. I put my laptop in my bag, slip back into my shoes, and waddle off to my gate.

I'm relieved. But no one can tell.

---

Before I slipped out the door to catch my flight, I slipped on a pair of Gas Eaters. They go over your regular underwear because the material isn't all that comfortable. Their air-tightness makes them a bit hot. In fact, they are kind of like those vinyl sweat jackets that wrestlers wear to make weight except they are underwear and they eat farts.

I don't care if you are a 95-pound beauty queen, a prim and proper grandma, or a guy wearing a "Farting is just another way to say I love you" T-shirt, at some point in time you've been on a plane and felt the urge to off-gas a bit.

You considered those sitting around you: Will they know it's me? Can I blame it on the guy in the fart T-shirt?

You considered your health: I am feeling really bloated from that airport burrito.

According to gastroenterologist Dr. Michael Levitt there are dangerous side effects from holding in farts, including headaches, dizziness, and becoming bloated.

We all face the decision: let it out or hold it in?

The decision is made easier if you are wearing Gas Eaters.

Fifteen minutes after takeoff, I feel the urge. There is a seat between me and the casually dressed businessman in my row. In front of me is a baby, behind me a toddler. Any of the three could share the blame if the Gas Eaters don't work. Reluctantly, I test them.

Consider this. On average homo sapiens flatulate a half-liter of gas per day, dispersed over ten individual periods of relief. Each fart is about half-a-cup in volume. As a pressure decreases, say like when a plane ascends, gas expands. A flight to Hawaii can take half-a-day. A 747 seats around 400 passengers. This means that on a flight to Hawaii there are about 119 2-liter bottles worth of farts floating around.

Unless they are held in, which mine was not.

A few moments pass. I wait to see what happens. Okay, maybe see isn't quite the right sense. Regardless, none of my senses picked up anything new.

The Gas Eaters worked!

It's a sort of freedom. No longer do I have to weigh the biological effects of "holding it in" with the undesirable social effects of "letting it out."

In 2006 a woman on a flight from Washington D.C. to Ft. Worth, Texas farted and forced the plane to land. Well, it wasn't exactly the fart, it was the match she lit to hide the fart that forced the landing. She has been banned from flying with American Airlines for a long time. And all because she farted and tried to hide it. If she would have been wearing a pair of Gas Eaters she wouldn't have delayed the travel plans of her 99 fellow passengers.

In his essay, "Fart Proudly" Benjamin Franklin (yes, that Benjamin Franklin) wrote, "Were it not for the odiously offensive smell accompanying such escapes, polite people would probably be under no more restraint in discharging such wind in company, than they are in spitting or in blowing their noses."

More than 200 hundred years later, thanks to Gas Eaters, we can fart proudly, even on a plane... if we get by TSA.